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Green scheme

Green scheme:  ECO WEEE Recycling Centre staff collect, repair and recycle appliances and donate them to those in need.

Detail oriented

Detail oriented:  Professional technicians inspect each appliance. Most washing machines, refrigerators and television sets can be repaired.

Hidden treasure

Hidden treasure:  Electrical appliances beyond repair are dismantled and stripped of valuable recyclable materials, such as iron, copper, aluminium and plastic for re-sale.

Second chance

Second chance:  Eco Park Recycling Centre Manager Mak Fung-chi says donated small appliances in good repair, such as toasters and coffee machines, are sold to raise funds for charity at a store in Tuen Mun.

Recycled appliances re-energised

February 17, 2013
Hong Kong people dump more than 70,000 tonnes of electrical appliances in local landfills each year. Most of them are still working or easily repaired. Since 2010, the Environmental Protection Department has teamed up with St James’ Settlement to collect, repair and recycle appliances and donate them to those in need.
 
Staff receive appliances at 16 collection centres and 440 points in private housing estates, and arrange a pick-up service for large-size items.
 
Every month, more than 200 applicants request recycled electrical appliances, but only 60 can be satisfied as the supply is insufficient, says Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer Josephine Lee.


Low-income families need television sets, refrigerators and washing machines, Ms Lee says, adding most of the collected items are DVD players, mobile phones and audio-visual products.
 
Systematic recycling
Appliances are labelled and sent to the ECO WEEE Recycling Centre in Tuen Mun where they are sorted into groups. At the centre, refrigerators and washing machines form a 100-metre-long line. Hundreds of old CRT television sets and plasmas fill the centre, while some rare and obsolete electronic devices such as AM radios, treadmills and old TV game players can also be seen. The centre handles 3,800 pieces every month.
 
Professional technicians inspect each appliance, sorting out repairable and reusable items for donation. Each applicant may receive on average three appliances.
 
Technician Chui Wing-yu is skilled at fixing washing machines and refrigerators. He said many people throw away refrigerators to buy new ones, even those which still function and may be 80% new. Technician Lam Sai-kwong said more than 80% of CRT televisions collected can be repaired. He is happy to fix them so they can be given to the needy.
 
Minimising waste
Manager Mak Fung-chi said the centre also deals with items that are beyond repair and unusable. These appliances will be dismantled into different types of recyclable materials, such as iron, copper, aluminium and plastics. A skilled worker can easily dissemble a cooker into different materials in minutes. Some of the raw materials can be resold for profit, such as the copper in electrical wires, which fetches $40,000 a tonne.
 
Andy Liu also works in the centre, delivering recycled appliances to low-income families. Andy delivered five electronic devices to the Chan family in Lam Tin, helping them install a CRT television, a DVD player, a refrigerator and other appliances, and taught them how to use them. Every appliance has a one-month warranty.
 
“I am happy when I deliver donations to those who need them the most. Some seniors do not have much entertainment at home. I give them a simple AM radio so they can listen to their favorite Chinese operas. Some low-income families live in very small places without air-conditioning. Small-sized electrical fans help them a lot,” Mr Liu said.
 
Living standards improve
The Chan family, especially Mrs Chan, appreciates the donations, saying they will help to improve their living standard.
 
“All these things are in good condition, just like brand new, and I like them so much. If I buy them from the department store, they cost me several thousand dollars. This donation really helps us save money and is environmentally friendly, too. The repair and delivery service is terrific. Sometimes my friends offer me some usable second-hand televisions or refrigerators, but they are too heavy for me to bring back home. Also I don't know how to fix them if they have problems.”
 
Now she has a new water heater, and a larger television set for her daughter to watch cartoons on, to replace her old 14-inch one.
 
Other functioning appliances which are not suitable for charitable donations, such as toasters and coffee machines, are sold to raise funds for charity at a dedicated store in Tuen Mun. Those who wish to support recycling and environmental protection may visit this website for details on making an online application or donation.


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